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Filcom gets briefing on online OEC registration

16 December 2016

Participants get an insight into how to help fellow OFWs in getting registered.

By Daisy CL Mandap

It’s not as difficult as you think.

This is the message that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office wants conveyed to those who worry about the new system of registering online to get a travel tax exemption in the Philippines.

To show that the process is far from complicated, POLO staff went through it with about 20 Filipino community leaders on Dec. 9.

Assistant Labor Attache Henry Tianero said that what overseas Filipino workers should do first is to check out the Balik Manggagawa Online page (http://bmonline.ph/). There is an instructional video there that explains the whole process.

Then they should create an email account if they have none. This is unavoidable.

“Many of our OFWs have no email accounts although they are on Facebook,” said Tianero.

“Sometimes they ask friends to create accounts for them, then promptly forget their account name or password”.

This poses a big problem because OFWs who are unable to log back in to their accounts will have to create a new one. This means they might have to line up again to then get the account details evaluated at POLO or the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) office nearest them, and pay the first-time registration fee of $20.

However, those who forget only their passwords could request for a new one, for as long as they still have access to the email address that they provided.

To make things simpler, Tianero suggested that OFWs use their Hong Kong ID card numbers as their password. Email account names could be as straightforward as their real names or initials to make them as easy to remember.

What if they are still unable to do this themselves?

“Ask a friend,” Tianero said.

Once the OFW passes the initial hurdle of logging on to the bmonline page using their email account, they will have to fill in all the required fields to register. This could take time if the worker is not ready to provide the required information, such as their contract details.

POEA staff Engelbert Causing showed several problem areas encountered by overseas Filipino workers trying to register online for the first time, such as the box that asks for their last OEC number.

Unknown to most, this question can be bypassed if the worker goes further down the page.
Causing also emphasized that the worker should list down names for their employers and themselves, as these appear in their HK ID cards and passports, which usually means that the surname comes before the first name.

Another thing to remember is to save all the information that is provided, before one can go on to the succeeding pages.

A common problem is the failure to upload a picture as part of the registration process. Causing suggested an applicant could easily do this by choosing from among her favorite pictures on Facebook. However, the worker could also opt to get help with this from POLO, where new cameras have been installed in the OEC registration room for this purpose.

Once all the required fields are filled in, a first-time applicant must secure an appointment with POLO or a POEA branch near her or his home in the Philippines to get the account verified, and obtain the all-important OEC exemption slip.

The next time they need to go home, they can easily obtain the exemption slip themselves by logging on to their accounts, for as long as they are returning to the same employer and work site.

Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre summed it up thus in a Facebook post: “After registering this once, you are now on your own way to a hassle-free vacation. The next time you go home, just open your account and apply for exemption. Presto. Just show the exemption number at the airport on your way back to HK.”

Simply put, there is no more reason for OFWs to avoid technology.

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